The Kingdom of God re-orders everything, even (perhaps especially) the way we view time. Rather than being first ordered by a calendar, the Christian year is ordered by a Story, God’s story in Jesus Christ (the gospel). The Christian Year follows this annual cycle, as we actually live into Jesus’ story of hope and redemption.
The Story of Jesus—
The Waiting—Our story begins with four weeks looking forward with anticipation toward the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the fulfillment of Israel’s hope, and the fulcrum for all of God’s promises for the world. In Advent, we look backward at the fact that Jesus has come for us once (the first advent) and look forward, eager for Jesus to come for us again (the second advent). The color for Advent is purple, symbolizing penitence and mourning.
The Appearing—The 12 days of Christmas, where we walk through Jesus’ Incarnation. The color for Christmas is white/gold, symbolizing holiness and joy.
Season of Epiphany // Ordinary Time
The Manifestation—The “striking appearance” (epiphany) of God begins (for Western Christians) with the story of Jesus’ presentation to the Magi and (for Eastern Christians) with the story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Epiphany marks Jesus’ mission of moving into the world and making himself known. This is also the first stretch of Ordinary Time, where we remember all Jesus’ works and words. The color for the season of Epiphany is green, symbolizing life, hope, and peace.
The Turning—Beginning with Ash Wednesday and climaxing in Holy Week, Lent is a season of preparation and opportunity to ‘arrange our life around the practices that Jesus engaged in to receive life and power from the Father.’ –Dallas Willard. The thought of transformation into a greater life is water to our soul. This is the purpose of the Lenten fast. Lent is 40 days (the number of days Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness and one day for each year Israel wandered in the desert), but does not include Sundays (because every Sunday is a feast day, a day for celebrating resurrection). The color for Lent is purple, symbolizing penitence and mourning.
Opens with Palm Sunday and leads us through our Lord’s Passion, from his entry into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, to his Crucifixion on Good Friday, and his lying in the grave on Holy Saturday. There are three colors for Holy Week. Palm Sunday can be purple or red, Maundy Thursday can be purple or white, and Good Friday is black. Easter Vigil is white/gold.
The Victory—The epicenter of our Story, the tale toward which all the tales point. Easter is a 50-day season of feasting and joy. The color for easter is white/gold, symbolizing holiness and joy.
The Witness—The culmination of Easter, the day we encounter the reality that God’s Spirit has gone public in the world, even now. And now, the Church lives into God’s mission for the world. The color for Pentecost is red, symbolizing fire and blood.
The Story of God’s People—
The Season after Pentecost // Ordinary Time
Beginning with Trinity Sunday, this longest season of the church year invites us to live out both the ordinariness and the power of Christian faith. The color or the Ordinary Time is green, symbolizing life, hope, and peace.